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Song You Need to Know: Marissa Nadler and Stephen Brodsky, ‘For the Sun’

A metal guitar vet and a singer known for dark, folky music team up for an unsettling duet that’s bleaker than anything either has recorded previously

“For the Sun” opens in the most ominous way: by pairing former Cave In frontman Stephen Brodsky’s plodding, doom-rock guitar with gothy songstress Marissa Nadler’s icy vocals. It’s an eerie combination that becomes more complex and surreal as the song goes on, with grim harmony backup vocals and thick swirls of reverb. (The song’s credits have Nadler playing a “drill” in addition to handling vocals.) Throughout, Nadler keeps singing, “I want to help you but I don’t know how,” and that sort of anxious, unrequited desire defines “For the Sun.”

About halfway through the three-and-a-half–minute song, which will appear on their upcoming collaborative album, Droneflower, it sound as if it will turn into a full-on heavy-metal onslaught — which isn’t out of the question, considering the screamathons Brodsky used to record with Cave In and Nadler’s own dark entries — but they pull back just in time to make it strange and beautiful (and a little scary, thanks to some funhouse slide whistle). Perhaps the most otherworldly thing about the song is the absence of drums and percussion; it’s simply guided by the grinding sound of guitar picks agitating strings. There’s one point toward the end of the song where they seem to miss a beat — maybe on purpose, maybe not, but it’s nevertheless unnerving — making for the most stressful moment of song that’s already a nail biter.

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